Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Letter from Gaza

Dear friends,

Two days ago, R, a close friend and a wonderful fellow international activist from Australia, who I worked with in 2007/2008 in the Occupied West Bank, managed to make it into Gaza. R spent several days waiting at the border waiting to get in before being allowed through.

With her permission, I am sending out an edited version of the email she send myself and her other friends to let us all know she was okay. In it, R, describes the devastation of Gaza and ongoing assaults taking place despite the “ceasefire” supposedly being in place.

In solidarity,

Letter from Gaza
From R

.... Since then, I've mostly been in Rafah and Khan Younis - following up on stories of devastation and violations of the ceasefire.

It has been a strange time to enter Gaza. There is so much devastation mixed with so much everyday life. Most people just trying to get on with their lives, whilst others sit on the piles of sand and rubble that were once their houses, with nowhere else to go. Re-arranging the rubble to make better seats. "Most days we just sit here in the sun", explained a woman from the Samouni family - who have received a lot of media attention since 29 members of the same family were killed as their houses were destroyed with people inside, but little material assistance. "We don't want to have to go to a neighbour's house. We want our own house".

And whilst many people seem to be coping in a way that is unfathomable to me, recounting their stories for all the journalists and human rights workers who come round, there is so much grief and anger, that, as a foreigner, I magnetise. Not that they are angry with me, but, as a representative of the outside world, which mostly stood by while the Israeli government dealt out their deadly "education" to the Palestnian civilians (educating them not to vote for Hamas; not to allow anyone in their community to resist Israel's occupation and siege), I am an easy outlet for them.

Also, I am witness, apparently, to a level of goods and services that haven't been seen in Gaza for a long time. There are fresh fruits in the markets - Israeli and expensive, but accessible. There is electricity a lot of the time in the places I have been. And water, whilst unsafe to drink from the taps, at least runs. Life seems strangely normal.

It was only last night that I realised this, when visiting the family of a young farm worker who was shot in the neck and killed by Israeli snipers from across the Green Line, whilst he was picking parsley and spinach for a meagre sum of 20 shekels ($6) a day. His mother was trying to explain to us the hardship of their lives. How his father is sick and paralysed. How he has two small children and a young wife left behind. How they have no source of income now. How the one year old baby doesn't crawl properly because they can't feed it well enough. How they had electricity that day, but before that, they were cooking on fires and using kerosene lamps.

This visit came straight after we had been in the village where Anwar was killed - Al Farahin. There it was explained that villagers are drowning economically, as they can't go to their lands near the Green Line. That they've been shot at everyday since the ceasefire. That their radishes are dying from lack of water; that their chickens and pigeons are already dead because it's been so long since they could go to feed them. And even this is not as bad as it was, explained one woman. "We were ready to start eating dirt, and then they stopped the bombing".

A lot of the precarity of the situation here only became real for me when we returned to Rafah last night, to the house that I have been staying in. There was no electricity - hadn't been since the afternoon. And then at 2am, there was a renewed airstrike by the border - about 1 km from here. It sounded much closer. It was only really then that I viscerally understood the oft-repeated cry of so many in Gaza: "Where could we go? There is nowhere that is safe. We would think to go to the school, but they bomb the schools. We would go to the mosque, but they bomb the mosques".

I know a lot of you have expressed worry over my well-being since the war on Gaza started, and were quite relieved to find out I was in the West Bank where there was a relative level of calm. I hope my coming here doesn't cause too much concern. My plan is to be here for ----, before heading to -----, a plan that involves me leaving here in one piece.

Many of you will (hopefully) be pleased to know that this plan also involves me coming home in ----- . I look forward to seeing everyone.

Love love love

Monday, January 26, 2009

500 Citizens of Sderot Contradict the Israeli Government

Dear friends,
please find below an very telling article, which contradicts the propaganda put out by the Israeli state as to the reason why they needed to go to war and kill almost 1500 Palestinians, 90% who were civilians, including almost 500 children and over 100 women.

in solidarity, Kim

500 Citzens of Sderot Contradict the Israeli Government
By Janine Roberts

Much has been made of Hamas' reported failure to honour last year's truce. But, an extraordinary correspondence between Jewish residents of the much-rocketed town of Sderot, nearby kibbutz, and the Palestinians living within sight in the Gaza strip paints a very different picture of that truce from that repeatedly given by the Israeli government.

Barrack Obama was taken to Sderot last year to show him the effects of rocketing. He remarked on how Israeli towns looked like American from the air and offered his full support to the town’s citizens, promising to invite its representatives to the White House soon after taking office. At the time in mid-July Sderot was safe to visit. There had been no casualties from rockets since the ceasefire started 4 weeks earlier.

On July 12th 2008, a Gaza resident, using the pseudonym of “Peaceman,” emailed friends in Sderot to say. “The situation is calm … and this make people happy a lot, because there are no dead and wounded [but] the border is still closed… I myself have been waiting two years to go to Europe to study.’ Nevertheless ‘we have now a golden opportunity to try to build a new world without violence.’

His friends replied to say how much better it was now the rockets had stopped. They told how they cycled along the Gaza borders and were greeted with waves by Gaza residents. They revelled in the freedom from danger. A joint children’s holiday was planned and greetings cards exchanged. (See samples at end)

One such message read “I live with my family in Kibbutz Beeri, close enough to Gaza to see the houses and the sea. On weekends I ride my bike with my husband through the fields along the border … I hope the violence will come to an end and the Palestinian State will be established with peace between our peoples and peace within each of our countries between the extremists on each side. ”

Sderot is built on the lands of Najd, a Palestinian village ethnically cleansed by Jewish militia in 1948. Its residents probably fled into the Gaza strip. Most of Gaza’s population is descended from such refugees. However, this history was not allowed to prevent this growing friendship – nor were the deaths of people from both towns in the months preceding the ceasefire.

The ceasefire was still intact months after Obama’s visit. In October 2008 an Israeli in Sderot, using the pseudonym “Hopeman,” emailed his friend in Gaza to say: “We have lived for almost 5 months in a ceasefire situation. On my side of the border, things returned to normal and we once again felt safe. Kids played freely outdoors, streets filled once again with people, and the constant fear of the rocket alerts disappeared. My kids went to sleep in their room again, instead of the safe room, and I could walk out to the fields surrounding the town without the fear of being out in the open with nowhere to hide.”

On October 9th an Israeli newspaper, the Star, headlined: ‘Israeli town celebrates end to daily rocket fire. It reported: “Besieged residents of Sderot were relieved by the quiet start to Yom Kippur, thanks to the ceasefire with Hamas …Young boys horsed around on their bicycles, families hurried to make last-minute purchases at the downtown supermarket, and food stands did a steady business in shawarma and beer.”

“Everything is different," exulted Jasmine Aboukrat, 25, sales clerk at the Cochovit Dress Shop near Hagofer St, "People go out more." “Now you see all the children outdoors, playing," said David Coyne, 38, who owns a candy shop in the centre of town. "It's secure.”

The paper explained: “For seven years, local residents barely went out at all. But, late last June, under Egyptian mediation, the Israeli government reached a ceasefire agreement with the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Since then, with only a few violations, the rocket salvoes from Gaza have stopped.”

Sderot is “a rambling community of boxy bungalows and low-rise apartment blocks. interspersed by palm, cypress and eucalyptus trees” with a library with nearly as many books in Russian as Hebrew, reflecting its recent arrivals. Its people “say they are hugely pleased with the new air of tranquillity that now permeates their town.”

The newspaper also reported that there were no more “punitive Israeli military incursions into the neighbouring strip – attacks that had been a frequent and deadly feature of Palestinian existence prior to the laying down of arms in June.”

But Hopeman emailed from Sderok: “During this time I have been in touch with many friends of mine in Gaza, and from them I heard a very dark and troubling reality…The siege Israel had imposed on them continues. They have many power shortages and very little fuel and cooking gas.”

On the 4th November, the day when Americans were watching the results of the Presidential election, the Israeli army broke the ceasefire by raiding the strip. Six Palestinians were killed. Next day the Palestinians reacted as could be expected by sending a shower of rockets and Israel immediately slashed supplies of medicine, fuel, food, cooking gas for the 1.5 million people of Gaza. The number of truckloads fell from October’s daily average of 123 trucks to less than 5 trucks. Some families were reduced to easting bread made from animal feed. Others were reduced to eating grass.

An email was sent: “Peace Man and I talk every day. We support each other and worry for each other’s well being. I am in contact with others in Gaza and share my situation while hearing of theirs. Much fear and pain on both sides. Once again we should all call to end the violence, open the siege, start talking and bring back hope to us, civilians on both sides, pawns in the unbearable senseless political game.”

Then Hamas told Israel that a renewed ceasefire must be accompanied by an end to the increasingly cruel siege, but Israel refused to accept this.

The friends “realized that the situation was about to deteriorate into total chaos” said Arik Yalin, 43, of Sderot, the spokesman for this Israeli-Arab group. They put up a website that stated: “Up until now we have cried, called, demonstrated, and asked our leaders to do something about this insane reality in which we live. The leaders have tried every possible idea that involves violence and military force – with no success at all.

“We shoot at them and they shoot at us. We retaliate and they strike back.

“This is an endless and vicious cycle.

“Today we say: ENOUGH! It is our turn to take our destiny into our own hands and to ACT to stop the cycle of bloodshed.”

They sent a petition to the Israeli Government in the name of their group; ‘Kol Acher’ (The Other Voice). Five hundred citizens of Sderot signed it as well as another 1300 Israeli and Palestinian citizens. It read:

“Kol Acher from Sderot and the communities around Gaza calls on the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister to act urgently to restore calm in the area.

“The ceasefire changed the lives of the people of Sderot, Ashkelon and the region beyond recognition, allowing all of us to experience again a life that is more normal and sane. The continuation of this calm is essential and critical to the residents of the region from every possible aspect: physical, mental, spiritual and economic.

“Another round of escalation may break our already brittle spirit, and take us all to another round of self-destruction and pointless bloodshed. It is not certain that we will survive. And you must be aware of that, if you indeed care about the residents of this area. We’ve been through this movie too many years–and results speak for themselves: feeling trapped, abandonment, and hopelessness for our children and us!

“On the other side of the border live a million and a half Palestinians under unbearable conditions, and most of them want, like we do, calm and the opportunity of a future for themselves and their families.

“We live in the feeling that you have wasted that period of calm, instead of using it to advance understandings and begin negotiations, as well as for fortifying the houses of residents as promised.

“We call on the Prime Minister and the Defence minister not to listen to the voices of incitement and do everything they can to avoid another round of escalation, to secure the continuation of the calm and to work...towards direct or indirect negotiations with the Palestinian leadership in Gaza in order to reach long term understandings.

“We prefer a cold war without a single rocket to a hot war with dozens of victims and innocent fatalities on both sides.

“We ask you to offer us the possibility of political arrangement and hope and not an endless cycle of blood.”

Their petition had no effect. On December 27th, while politicians in the West were on holiday and the US had a lame duck President in his final weeks of office, Israel launched a savage assault.

That same day the Israeli Foreign Ministry changed its website, removing charts giving the numbers of rockets and mortars fired every month from the Gaza strip, perhaps because they revealed the near-total cessation of fire during the truce.

The removed Israeli government graph: 'Monthly distribution of rockets hits.'

These charts were based on statistics supplied by the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center and provide striking evidence of Hamas’ good faith. Contrary to government statements made repeatedly since then, Israeli government statistics show Hamas kept the ceasefire.

Together with a similar graph for mortar fire, these reveal that the total number of rocket and mortar attacks launched from Gaza fell from over a hundred a month to just 12 in all from the start of July to the end of October. The Ministry has replaced these graphs with one that is harder to interpret. It claims ‘227 rockets were fired during the lull in the fighting’ but notes that 203 of these were fired after November 4th, the date when Israel broke the ceasefire. This is still on the Government website.

Credit for the 12 rockets fired during the ceasefire were reportedly claimed by Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Islamic Jihad or the "Badr Forces.’ Hamas condemned them.

It is worth going back to what else Obama said in Sderot: “I will not wait until a few years into my term or my second term if I'm elected, in order to get the process moving. I think we have a window right now that needs to be taken advantage of. I think you've got a set of moderate Palestinian leaders who are interested. I think the Israeli people are interested in moving this process along. But I also think there's a population on both sides that is becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress. And where there's hopelessness and despair that can often turn in a bad direction.”

Obama on January 11th said he would be ready to do all he can to bring peace from the day he takes office. But – has Obama heard these voices of Sderot? I doubt he did when he went to their town, but, if he did, then he will know that the Israeli government is wrong to claim that the only way they can stop the rockets is by physically destroying Hamas with all the slaughter this entails.

Perhaps Obama should also take advice, not already doing so, from the former UK Ambassador to Israel, Sir Jeremy Greenstock. January 9, 2009 he unhesitatingly said during a BBC interview: “Hamas is not a terrorist organisation,” adding he knows from talking to them that they are focussed on ending the decades of military occupation. He also affirmed; “Israel broke the truce by its actions on 4th November.”'

Perhaps Obama should also listen to the Catholic priest, Fr. Latham, who preached in Bethlehem on Sunday 4th January, saying the Palestinians are being “crucified everyday.”


Find examples of the post cards sent from Sderot to Gaza Strip.

- Janine Roberts has written for many major Australian newspapers and both the Independent and Financial Times in the UK. Her investigative films have appeared on the PBS network in the USA and on the BBC and Australian television. She was invited to testify at a US Congressional Hearing on Human rights in Africa and the blood diamond trade. Her latest investigative books are “Glitter and Greed” and the “Fear of the Invisible.” She contributed this article to Contact her at:, or visit her blog:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Israeli citizens call for the boycott of Israeli goods and institutions

Dear friends,
please find below a call by conscientious Israelis who have called for a boycott of Israeli goods and institutions. Also included is a copy of the Call from Within signed by 540 Israeli citizens mentioned by the signatories of the Letter to the Guardian.

For more information on the Global Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment campaign against Israel please visit:

For information on the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, please visit:

Please consider how you, as well as your community group, school, university, church group, union or work place can join or assist the BDS campaign.

in solidarity,

* home
Words and deeds in the Middle East

* The Guardian, Saturday 17 January 2009

The leaders of the western world are wringing their hands in despair at the sight of the horrors inflicted on Gaza (Gaza crisis, 16 January). The UN general secretary, the French president and others are holding intensive discussions with some of the leaders of the Middle East in an attempt to put an end to the carnage in Gaza. Word, words, words.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinian civilians get killed, thousands are bleeding to death, tens of thousands are uprooted and wandering in vain in search of some shelter to protect them. The Israeli army bombs hospitals and Unrwa relief centres, and, defying international convention, it uses white phosphorus bombs against civilians. "What else can we do?" these leaders keep asking. Well, here is what you can do: move from words to deeds. Only immediate, decisive and strict sanctions against the state of Israel and its limitless aggression will make it realise that there's a limit.

We, as Israeli citizens, raise our voices to call on EU leaders: use sanctions against Israel's brutal policies and join the active protests of Bolivia and Venezuela. We appeal to the citizens of Europe: please attend to the Palestinian Human Rights Organisation's call, supported by more than 540 Israeli citizens ( boycott Israeli goods and Israeli institutions; follow resolutions such as those made by the cities of Athens, Birmingham and Cambridge (US). This is the only road left. Help us all, please!

Signatories (provided by authors -- onlay partial list appeared in the Guardian)

Gish Amit
Adv. Abeer Baker
Iris Bar
Yoram Bar Haim
Prof. Daphna Carmeli (Haifa University)
Prof. Yoram Carmeli (Haifa University)
Keren Dotan
Ronit Dovrat
Dr. Judith Druks (City University, London)
Rona Even
Dr. Ovadia Ezra (Tel Aviv University)
Prof. Rachel Giora (Tel Aviv University)
Neta Golan
Tamar Goldschmidt
Adar Grayevsky
Dalia Hager
Haim Hanegbi
Rosamine Hayeem
Ala Hlehel
Aya Kaniuk
Lana Khaskia
Prof. Vered Kraus (Haifa University)
Yael Lerer
Dr. Aim Deuel Luski (Tel Aviv University)
Eilat Maoz
Moshe Machover
Prof. Charles Manekin (University of Maryland)
Dr. Ruchama Marton
Dr. Anat Matar (Tel Aviv University)
Rela Mazali
Prof. Yitzhak Y. Melamed (John Hopkins University)
Dorothy Naor
Dr. David Nir
Annie Ohayon
Noam Paiola
Michal Peer
Sigal Perelman
Amit Perelson
Jonathan Pollak
Prof. Yehuda Shenhav (Tel Aviv University)
Dr. Kobi Snitz (Technion – Israel Institute of Technology)
Ruth Tenne
Adv. Lea Tsemel
Michael Varshavsky
Oded Wolkstein
Sergio Yahni

A Call from Within - signed by Israeli citizens
Sunday, 18 January 2009

Written by 540 Israeli citizens

In support of the Palestinian Human Rights Community Call for International Action

As if the occupation was not enough, the brutal ongoing repression of the Palestinian population, the construction of settlements and the siege of Gaza - now comes the bombardment of the civilian population: men, women, old folks and children. Hundreds of dead, hundreds of injured, overwhelmed hospitals, and the central medicine depot of Gaza bombed. The ship Dignity of the Free Gaza movement which brought emergency medical supplies and a number of physicians was also attacked. Israel has returned to openly committing war crimes, worse than what we have seen in a long time.

Israeli media do not expose their viewers to the horrors and to the voices of severe criticism of these crimes. The story told is uniform. Israeli dissidents are denounced as traitors. Public opinion including that of the Zionist left supports the Israeli policy uncritically and without reservation.

Israel's destructive criminal policy will not cease without a massive intervention by the international community. However, except for some rather weak official condemnation, the international community is reluctant to intervene,. The United States openly supports the Israeli violence and Europe, although voicing some condemnation, is unwilling to seriously consider withdrawing the "gift" it handed Israel by upgrading its relations with the European Union.

In the past the world knew how to fight criminal policies. The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves: its trade relations are flourishing, academic and cultural cooperation continue and intensify with diplomatic support.

This international backing must stop. That is the only way to stop the insatiable Israeli violence.

We are calling on the world to stop Israeli violence and not allow the continuation of the brutal occupation. We call on the world to Condemn and not become an accomplice in Israel's crimes.

In light of the above, we call on the world to implement the call by Palestinian human rights organizations which urges:

• "The UN Security Council to call an emergency session and adopt concrete measures, including the imposition of sanctions, in order to ensure Israel's fulfillment of its obligations under international humanitarian law.
• The High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfil their obligation under common Article 1 to ensure respect for the provisions of the Conventions, taking appropriate measures to compel Israel to abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular placing pivotal importance on the respect and protection of civilians from the effects of the hostilities.
• The High Contracting Parties to fulfil their legal obligation under Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to prosecute those responsible for grave breaches of the Convention.
• EU institutions and member states to make effective use of the European Union Guidelines on promoting compliance with international humanitarian law (2005/C 327/04) to ensure Israel complies with international humanitarian law under paragraph 16 (b), (c) and (d) of these guidelines, including the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions, as well as cessation of all upgrade dialogue with Israel. "

Signed by 540 Israeli citizens (first list):

Avital Aboody, Sami Abu Shehadeh, Moshe Adler, Haim Adri, Gali Agnon, Bilha Aharoni, Hagit Aharoni, Saida Ahmed, Danny Aisner, Orna Akad, Aviv Aldema, Ra'anan Alexandrowicz, Joseph Algazy, Omer Allon, Dan Almagor, Orly Almi, Tali Almi, Tamar Almog, Udi Aloni, Yuli Aloni-Primor, Colman Altman, Janina Altman, Ahmad Amara, Eitan Amiel, Nitza Aminov, Gish Amit, Yossi Amitay, Naama Arbel, Tal Arbel, Rana Asali, Maisoon Assadi, Keren Assaf, Zohar Atai, Najla Atamnah, Rutie Atsmon, Michal Aviad, Hanna Aviram, Jasmin Avissar, Amira Bahat, Noam Bahat, Daniela Bak, Abeer Baker, Saleh Bakri, Rim Banna, Oshra Bar, Yoav Barak, Daphna Baram, Michal Bareket, Hila Bargiel, Ronny Bar-Gil, Yoram Bar-Haim, Ronnie Barkan, Osnat Bar-Or, Racheli Bar-or, Yossi Bartal, Raji Bathish, Dalit Baum, Shlomit Bauman, Esther Ben Chur, Hagit Ben Yaacov, Tal Ben Zvi, Yael Ben-Zvi, Avner Ben-Amos, Ronnen Ben-Arie, Ur Ben-Ari-Tishler, Ofra Ben-Artzi, Yotam Ben-David, Smadar Ben-Natan, Shmuel Ben Yitzchak, Avi Berg, Daniel Berger, Tamar Berger, Anat Biletzki, Itai Biran, Rotem Biran, Shany Birenboim, Rozeen Bisharat, Yafit Gamilah Biso, Liran Bitton, Simone Bitton, Yahaacov Bitton, Rani Bleier, Yempa Boleslavsky, Hagit Borer, Ido Bornstein, Irith Bouman, Haim Bresheeth, Aya Breuer, Shlomit Breuer, Dror Burstein, Smadar Bustan, Shai Carmeli-Pollak, Smadar Carmon, Zohar Chamberlain-Regev, Sami Shalom Chetrit, Chassia Chomsky-Porat, Arie Chupak, Isadora Cohen, Kfir Cohen, Matan Cohen, Nahoum Cohen, Raya Cohen, Ron Cohen, Stan Cohen, Yifat Cohen, Alex Cohn, Scandar Copti, Adi Dagan, Yael Dagan, Yasmeen Daher, Silan Dallal, Tamari Dallal, Leena Dallasheh, Eyal Danon, Uri Davis, Hilla Dayan, Relli De Vries, Maoz Degani, Ruti Divon, Diana Dolev, Yfat Doron, Ettie Dotan, Keren Dotan, Ronit Dovrat, Daniel Dukarevich, Arnon Dunetz, Maya Dunietz, Udi Edelman, Shai Efrati, Neta Efrony, Rani Einav, Asa Eitan, Danae Elon, Ruth El-Raz, Noam Enbar, Amalia Escriva, Anat Even, Gilad Evron, Ovadia Ezra, Basma Fahoum, Avner Faingulernt, Ghazi-Walid Falah, Naama Farjoun, Yvonne Fattal, Dror Feiler, Pnina Feiler, Micky Fischer, Sara Fischman, Nadav Franckovich, Ofer Frant, Ilil Friedman, Maya Galai, Dafna Ganani, Gefen Ganani, Yael Gazit, Yoram Gelman, Yakov Gilad, Amit Gilboa, Michal Ginach, Rachel Giora, Michal Givoni, Ednna Glukman, Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, Bilha Golan, Neta Golan, Shayi Golan, Tsilli Goldenberg, Vardit Goldner, Tamar Goldschmidt, Lymor Goldstein, Dina Goor, Shelley Goral, Joel Gordon, Ester Gould, Inbal Gozes, Inbal Gozes-Sharvit, Erella Grassiani, Adar Grayevsky, Gill Green, David Greenberg, Ela Greenberg, Dani Grimblat, Lev Grinberg, Yosef Grodzinsky, Hilik Gurfinkel, Galia Gur-Zeev, Anat Guthmann, Amos Gvirtz, Maya Gzn-Zvi, Yoav Haas, Iman Habibi, Connie Hackbarth, Uri Hadar, Mirjam Hadar Meerschwam, Rayya Haddad, Osnat Hadid, Dalia Hager, Tami Hager, Hava Halevi, Yasmine Halevi, Jeff Halper, Yuval Halperin, Rula Hamdan-Atamneh, Rania Hamed, Rola Hamed, Anat Hammermann Schuldiner, Doron Hammermann-Schuldiner, Ben Handler, Tal Haran, Elad Harel, Nir Harel, Shuli Hartman, Lihi Hasson, Amir Havkin, Shira Havkin, Amani Hawari, Areen Hawari, Iris Hefets, Ada Heilbronn, Ayelet Heller, Sara Helman, Ben Hendler, Aref Herbawi, Tamara Herman, Avi Hershkovitz, Yael Hersonski, Galit Hess, Hannan Hever, Ala Hlehel, Gil Hochberg, Tikva Honig-Parnass, Tikva Honig-Parnass, Inbar Horesh, Veronique Inbar, Rachel Leah Jones, Noga Kadaman, Ari Kahana, Dafna Kaminer, Aya Kaniuk, Ruti Kantor, Liad Kantorowicz, Dalia Karpel, Rabia Kassim, Amira Katz, Shai Katz, Uri Katz, Giora Katzin, Dror Kaufman, Adam Keller, Yehudit Keshet, Lana Khaskia, Efraim Kidron, Alisa Klein, Sylvia Klingberg, Yana Knopova, Ofra Koffman, Yael Korin, Alina Korn, Rinat Kotler, Meira Kowalsky, Noa Kram, Miki Kratsman, Rotem Kuehnberg, Assia Ladizhinskaya, Michal Lahav, Roni Lahav, Idan Landau, Yitzhak Laor, Orna Lavi, Ruti Lavi, Shaheen Lavie-Rouse, Yigal Laviv, Tamar Lehahn, Ronen Leibman, Miki Lentin, Ronit Lentin, Yael Lerer, Chava Lerman, Noa Lerner, Yair Lev, Yudith Levin, Abigail Levine, Eyal Levinson, Dana Levy, Inbal Lily-Koliner, Moran Livnat, Omri Livne, Amir Locker-Biletzki, Yael Locker-Biletzki, Yossi Loss, Yael Lotan, Guy Lougashi, Irit Lourie, Orly Lubin, Joseph Lubovsky, Aim Deuelle Luski, Naomi Lyth, Moshe Machover, Aryeh Magal, Liz Magnes, Noa Man, Ya'acov Manor, Arabiya Mansour, Roi Maor, Adi Maoz, Eilat Maoz, Yossi Marchaim, Alon Marcus, Esti Marpet, Ruchama Marton, Nur Masalha, Anat Matar, Doron Matar, Haggai Matar, Oren Matar, Samy Matar, Rela Mazali, Naama Meishar, Rachel Meketon, Yitzhak Y. Melamed, Remy Mendelzweig, Racheli Merhav, Yael Meron, Juliano Merr-Khamis, Esti Micenmacher, Maya Michaeli, Avraham Milgrom, Jeremy Milgrom, Elisheva Milikowski, Erez Miller, Katya Miller, Limor Mintz-Manor, Ariel Mioduser, Dror Mishani, Eedo Mizrahi, Avi Mograbi, Liron Mor, Magi Mor, Susan Mordechay, Susanne Moses, Haidi Motola, Ahuva Mu'alem, Ben Tzion Munitz, Norma Musih, Dorit Naaman, Michal Naaman, Gil Naamati, Haneen Naamnih, Naama Nagar, Dorothy Naor, Regev Nathansohn, Shelly Nativ, Salman Natour, Judd Ne'eman, Dana Negev, Smadar Nehab, Shlomit Lola Nehama, Ofer Neiman, David Nir, Eyal Nir, Tali Nir, Alex Nissen, Tal Nitzan, Joshua Nouriel, Yasmine Novak, Nira Nuriely, David Ofek, Tal Omer, Adi Ophir, Anat Or, Yael Oren Kahn, Norah Orlow, Gal Oron, Akiva Orr, Dorit Ortal, Noam Paiola, Il'il Paz-el, Michal Peer, Miko Peled, Nirit Peled, Nurit Peled-elhanan, Leiser Peles, Orna Pelleg, Tamar Pelleg-Sryck, Sigal Perelman, Amit Perelson, Nadav Pertzelan, Erez Pery, Tom Pessah, Dani Peter, Shira Pinhas, Yossi Pollak, Gil Porat, Dror Post, Eyal Pundik, Yisrael Puterman, Ilya Ram, Nery Ramati, Amit Ramon, Avi Raz, Ayala Raz, Hili Razinsky, Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, David Reeb, Hadas Refaeli, Shlomo Regev, Dimi Reider, Noa Reshef, Amit Ron, Roee Rosen, Illit Rosenblum, Maya Rosenfeld, Danny Rosin, Yehoshua Rosin, Ilana Rossoff, Ilani Rotem, Natalie Rothman, Areej Sabbagh, Ahmad Sa'di, Sidki Sadik, Walid Sadik, Hannah Safran, Hiba Salah, Sana Salame-Daqa, Galit Saporta, Sima Sason, Sagi Schaefer, Tali Schaefer, Oded Schechter, Agur Schiff, Nava Schreiber, Idit Schwartz, Michal Schwartz, Noa Schwartz, Eran Segal, Keren Segal, Irit Segoli, Irit Sela, Dan Seltzer, Yael Serry, Shaul Setter, Meir Shabat, Aharon Shabtai, Michal Shabtay, Itamar Shachar, Erella Shadmi, Ilan Shalif, Hanna Shammas, Ayala Shani, Uri Shani, Arik Shapira, Bat-Sheva Shapira, Yonatan Shapira, Omer Sharir, Yael Shavit, Noa Shay, Fadi Shbita, Adi Shechter, Oz Shelach, Adi Shelesnyak, Mati Shemoelof, Ehud Shem-Tov, Yehouda Shenhav, Nufar Shimony, Khen Shish, Hagith Shlonsky, Tom Shoval, Sivan Shtang, Tal Shuval, Ivy Sichel, Ayman Sikseck, Shelly Silver, Inbal Sinai, Eyal Sivan, Ora Slonim, Kobi Snitz, Maja Solomon, Gideon Spiro, Neta Stahl, Talila Stan, Michal Stoler, Ali Suliman, Dored Suliman, Marcelo Svirsky, Yousef Sweid, Ula Tabari, Yael Tal, Lana Tatour, Doron Tavory, Ruth Tenne, Idan Toledano, Eran Torbiner, Osnat Trabelsi, Lily Traubmann, Naama Tsal, Lea Tsemel, Ruth Tsoffar, Ehud Uziel, Ivan Vanney, Sahar Vardi, Roman Vater, Ruth Victor, Yaeli Vishnizki-Levi, Roey Vollman, Roy Wagner, Michael Warschawski, Michal Warshavsky, Ruthy Weil, Sharon Weill, Shirly Weill, Elian Weizman, Eyal Weizman, Einat Weizman Diamond, Elana Wesley, Etty Wieseltier, Yossi Wolfson, Oded Wolkstein, Ayelet Yaari, Smadar Yaaron, Roni Yaddor, Sarah Yafai, Galia Yahav, Sergio Yahni, Niza Yanay, Amnon Yaron, Tamar Yaron, Mahmoud Yazbak, Oren Yiftachel, Sarit Yitzhak, Sharon Zack, Uri Zackhem, Jamal Zahalka, Sawsan Zaher, Adva Zakai, Edna Zaretsky, Beate Zilversmidt, Amal Zoabi, Haneen Zoubi, Himmat Zu'bi, Mati Zuckerman

Monday, January 12, 2009

Propaganda, Democracy and War: justifying Israel's war crimes in Gaza

Propaganda, democracy and war: justifying Israel’s war crimes in Gaza
(published as Gaza: Propaganda does nothing for peace, indeed)
By Kim Bullimore

In the midst of Israel’s massacre of more than 800 people in Gaza, including more than 200 children and 100 women, as well as 3000 injured, apologists for Israel’s war crimes have sought to defend the Zionist state. Not only have many of them sought to blame the Palestinian people for Israel’s massacre in Gaza, ignoring the fact that Palestinians have suffered 60 years of non-stop aggression at the hands of the Israeli Zionist state, many of them have also sought to paint Israel as the beacon of democracy and pluralism in order to silence Israel’s critics.

A recent example of this can be found in the article which appeared on January 9 in Australia’s only national newspaper, The Australian. In the article, Propaganda Does Nothing for Peace, Niv Horesh - an Israeli-Australian – seeks, in part, to shut down critics of Israel’s policies and actions in Gaza by regaling us with examples of Israel’s supposed democratic credentials [1]. In the article, Horesh writes, “There are very few countries in the world that would allow demonstrators to denounce their government while hoisting enemy flags in the midst of war. Yet, this is precisely what happened last week in Tel Aviv: not a single Israeli flag was in sight amid hundreds of Palestinian, communist and anarchist banners. Such is the strength of Israeli democracy that not a single incident interrupted the demonstration”.

Protest in Tel Aviv

What Horesh and other Israeli apologists conveniently leave out is that the Israel’s security forces have been dragging in for questioning Palestinian citizens of Israel who have opposed the war, as well Israeli Jewish activists, who have taken a stand against the brutal massacre in Gaza. In the past two weeks, hundreds of Palestinian Israeli and Jewish Israeli activists and citizens opposed to the war have been arrested, jailed and prosecuted for speaking out and taking a stand. According to the Haifa based, Mossawa Centre, which advocates on behalf of the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, more than 200 Palestinians with Israeli citizenship alone had been arrested by the Israeli state for demonstrating between December 27 and December 31 [2]. On January 6, Palestinian News Agency, Maan News, reported that the number had increased substantially and that more than 300 Palestinian Israeli youth had been arrested by Israeli police. Maan noted that “the youth had been placed for the most part in administrative detention [detention without charge or trail] or put away on minor charges for short periods of time” [3]

On January 2, this beacon of democracy arrested and jailed for almost three days more than 20 Israeli anti-war demonstrators, who demonstrated outside Sde Dov airbase. The Israel state, claiming that the anti-war demonstrators were a threat to the security of the state, sought to have the three day incarceration extended until the end of legal proceedings, which could take several weeks or months to conclude. The request for the extension, however, was over ruled by the presiding judge [4]

19 activists arrested after blocking entrance to Israeli air force base protesting the killing in Gaza. Tel Aviv, Israel, 2.1.09
Photo by: Yotam Ronen/ Activestills

19 activists arrested after blocking entrance to Israeli air force base protesting the killing in Gaza. Tel Aviv, Israel, 2.1.09
Photo by: Yotam Ronen/

At Haifa University on January 6, hundreds of Israeli Border Police – the Israeli security force that regularly brutalises Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories – stormed the campus, attacked students, arresting 15 anti-war student activists [5] According to students who were at the demonstration more than 250 Border Police attacked the anti-war protest without provocation.

Israeli anti-occupation group, Anarchists Against the Wall, who were recently jointly awarded the Carl Von Ossietzky Human Rights medal in Berlin with the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall, have reported that many of their members and supporters, as well as other Israeli anti-occupation activists are being harassed, arrested and had their houses raided by the police as a result of being involved in anti-war activism.

Protest in Haifa

On January 7, in an editorial titled “The Right to Express Protest”, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper noted that “in the last few days, the Shin Bet security service questioned dozens of Arab Israelis, while others were subjected to warnings aimed at deterring them from participating in demonstrations against the Israel Defense Forces operation in the Gaza Strip” [6]. The editorial went onto note that Israeli “security services are using intimidation tactics to prevent legitimate protest against the current campaign [in Gaza].

Just one day after the editorial appeared, Haaretz ran a news article which outlined how four Palestinian citizens of Israel, aged between 19 and 26 years, had been arrested by the Israeli state for holding a demonstration outside the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv. According to the January 8 report, Israeli state prosecutors sought to restrict the movement of the anti-war protesters, saying their protest during a time of war “damages national morale” [7].

Demonstration in Israel against the War

Israel far from being a “beacon of democracy” has sought to harass, intimidate, threaten and brutalise its own citizens, who have spoken out against not only the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories but also the massacre taking place in Gaza. Those who seek to wave Israel’s democratic credentials in the face of those who oppose the mass murder in Gaza of hundreds of civilians ignore this, just as the conveniently ignore the fact that Israel’s current war is a direct result of the refusal of Israel, the USA and the international community, as well the leadership of the Fatah party in Palestine, to accept the democratic will of the Palestinian people.

In 2006, the Palestinian people elected Hamas to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority in what were the most democratic elections ever to be held in an Arab country. In these elections, Hamas won 44% of the vote to Fatah’s 41%, giving them 76 seats of the 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Since Hamas’ democratic election, however, the Israeli Zionist state sought to put the Palestinian people, in the words of senior Israeli government advisor Dov Weisglass, “on a diet”. In the past three years, Israel has sought to strangle and starve the Palestinian people into submission for their democratic choice, deepening their occupation and initially placing all of the Occupied Palestinian Territories under siege. Israel was only to release its grip slightly on the West Bank, when Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, eagerly took on the role of Israel’s quisling in the territory. In doing so he abandoned completely his people in Gaza to the capricious dictates of the Israeli state.

For the past two years, Israel has been tightening the noose on Gaza, cutting off power, electricity, fuel supplies, medicine and food in the hope it would turn the Gazan population on their democratically elected representatives. When this didn’t work, Israel began its most recent bombing campaigning, killing indiscriminately in order to teach the Palestinian people that “real democracy” - the type that Israel, the US and the international community support - consists of bowing to the dictates of their occupier and oppressor, never defending themselves and dying silently while they are starved, beaten, abused and bombed to death.

Demonstration in Yaffa against the war in Gaza

And for those supporters of Israel, who seemed surprised at Israel’s current behaviour and lament the corrosion of Israel’s democracy as a result of its mass murder in Gaza, it is time to point out to them that Israel’s supposed democratic record during so-called “peace time” is equally appalling. For the past 41 years, “the only democracy in the Middle East” has been engaging in a military dictatorship in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, which suspends indefinitely the right of Palestinian people to democracy and human rights [8]. For the past 41 years, the 5 million Palestinian residents of the occupied West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem have been subject to military law, which allows the Israel state and its military to do whatever it likes, including removing democratically elected officials from office, forbidding the election of trade union officials, as well as being able to control and oversee the election of trade union officials (including being able to demand a list of nominees and removing nominees from running). The very undemocratic Israeli military dictatorship in the Occupied Palestinian Territories can also prohibit the publication of anything political in any medium, including painting, videos, films, poems and novels, whether it pertains to Palestine or not. This same military dictatorship also has the power to prohibit the display of the Palestinian flag and can arrest and detain anyone displaying it and to censor and prohibit what books are utilised by Palestinian schools (in recent years, up to 60 books have been prohibited by the Israeli military and state). In addition, the Israeli security forces can and does use “arbitrary detention” to detain Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trail. Those detained, along with their lawyers, have no right to know what they are charged with or what evidence there is against them.

Under Israel’s military dictatorship in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the Palestinian people have no input or democratic protection regarding Israeli military law, including how or why these laws are written, how or why they are implemented, how or when they come into effect. There are also very few avenues for appeal against these laws or for review of them.

Police arrested a resident of east Jerusalem who works as a reporter for an Iranian television station under suspicion of reporting of Israel's entrance into Gaza against standing orders.
Photo by Nir Landu/

Within Israel itself, where supposedly democracy for all prevails, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are systematically discriminated against. Many people are not aware that Israel has no constitution; instead it simply has Basic Laws, which supposedly act a mini-bill of rights. However, these Basic Laws do not explicitly protect the right to equality and Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are regularly discriminated against. Instead as Adalah, the Israeli Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel notes since its creation Israel has never sought to integrate its Palestinian citizens, instead it has treated them “as second-class citizens and excluding them from public life and the public sphere” [9]. In 2001, in a report to the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Adalah identified more than 20 Israeli laws which result in the systematic and institutionalised discrimination against Palestinian Israelis, including in the areas of education, culture, employment, land, economics and political participation.

In the broader democratic arena, over the years, Israel has also sought to introduce legislation which has restricted the political participation of anyone who does not agree with the “Jewish character” of the Israeli state. Since 1985, when Israel amended its Basic Laws, no political parties or political candidate are able run for political office if they advocate that Israel become a secular, democratic state with equal rights for all its citizens.

The apartheid nature of the Israeli state and its discriminatory and undemocratic policies, which are enacted both inside Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories are regularly and systematically ignored by Israel’s apologists.
Instead, they seek to silence critics of Israel’s occupation policies, human rights abuses and war crimes by waving the “democracy” card. A democracy in the modern sense of the word, however, can be defined as a system which guarantees basic human rights for all it citizens, including equal rights in the civil, social, economic and political spheres, while also guaranteeing freedom of speech, expression and assembly and allows religious freedom for all its citizens. To argue that Israel meets these requirements, either in times of war such as now or so-called peace times is nothing short of propaganda. And the one thing that Niv Horesh does get right in his article is that “propaganda does nothing for peace”.

-Kim Bullimore has recently spent 12 months living and working in the Occupied West Bank with the International Women’s Peace Service . Kim writes regularly on the Palestine-Israel conflict for the Australian newspaper, Direct Action and has a blog at She contributed this article to

[1] Horesh, N., Propaganda does nothing for peace, The Australian, 9 January, 2009,25197,24889002-7583,00.html
[2] Mossawa Centre
[3] Israeli police arrested 300 Palestinian-Israelis since Gaza attacks began, Maan News, 6 January, 2009
[4] Police arrest 21 left-wing activists protesting Gaza op at Sde Dov IAF base, Jerusalem Post, 2 January, 2009
[5] Clashes break out between Arab students and police in the Israeli universities, Menassat, Arab Media Network, 8 January, 2009
[6]The Right to Express Protest, Haaretz editorial, 7 January, 2009
[7] Edelman, O., (2009) Tel Aviv judge defends right of Arab anti-war protesters, Haaretz,
[8] Kirshbaum, D.A., (2007) Israeli military oppression and exploitation of Palestinian society in Gaza and the West Bank: How it works.
[9] Adalah

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Israel's war on civilans

Video report from CBS

Video report from BBC

ISM report on first day of bombing, 27 December

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Venezuela and Cuba condemn Israel's massacre in Gaza

Dear friends,
please find below a statement issued by President Hugo Chavez of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela condemning Israel's brutal attacks on Gaza and the massacre of more than 400 Palestinians.

Venezuela, under the leadership of Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution, has consistently come out in support of the oppressed around the world. In 2006, Chavez was the only world leader to recall his country's ambassador from Israel in response to Israel brutal aerial war against the Lebanese people, which resulted in more than 1000 being killed and thousands more injured. Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution government were also one of the first countries in the world to recognise the democratic vote of the Palestinian people in 2006 and have repeatedly spoken out in support of Palestine and taken concrete action to support the struggle of the Palestinian people and others in the region suffering under the imperialist actions of Israel and the USA.

For more information on Venezuela's solidarity with Palestine, please read Venezuela's support for Palestine: A model for third world diplomacy By Nikhil Shah, which appeared in ZMag and has been republished on this blog in October 2008.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Venezuelan revolution you can visit the following webpages:

Cuba has also issued a statement condemning the massacre, please find below, a news item about their statement on Prensa Latina.

In solidarity,
Statement delivered by the Ministry of People's Power for Foreign Affairs Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela


The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, on behalf of the Bolivarian government, and as spokesmen of the Venezuelan people, wants to express his deep indignation before the criminal attack Israel perpetrated against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.

In this sense, the Bolivarian government expresses its solidarity to the Palestinian people and it raises its voice before the international community in order to launch a massive rejecting campaign before these terrible and violent actions; through which they try to eliminate the life expectancy of an entire people.

The only government of the world that has been an accessory to this attack has been the U.S. government. And the statements issued by its spokesmen, Gordon Jhondroe, are astonishing, since he said the only way to stop violence in the region is by stopping attacks against Israel.

This action could be the invariable "hallmark" of the criminal administration of the outgoing government of the United States; a dying term of office full of violence, which is known worldwide for its persistent disrespect of human rights.

The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela calls on those countries loving peace and justice to raise its protesting voices against this aggression. It also urges the United Nations Organization to exert its authority and impose the numerous resolutions adopted in favour of the Palestinian people and against the State violence practiced by Israel Government. This is the only way to guarantee a lasting peace and the end of these facts, which are absolutely against the United Nations Charter and other international regulations.

Ministry of People's Power for Foreign Affairs / Miraflores Presidential Palace, December 27, 2008

Cuba Condemns Israel Bloodshed in Gaza

Havana, Dec 28 (Prensa Latina) Cuba has strongly condemned Israel massive airstrikes on the Gaza Strip that have left 200 Palestinians dead and hundreds of other wounded.

In a statement issued in Havana, the Cuban Revolutionary Government called criminal the Israeli military operation, terming it as "the bloodiest attack Israel has ever launched against the Palestinian people".

The text notes such air raids are taking place amidst the illegal blockade the Israeli government has enforced on the Gaza Strip over the last 18 months, with the aim of surrendering Palestinian, including children, women and elderly, by hunger and diseases.

Cuba strongly condemns this genocidal act by the Israeli government which violates the main principles of International Law and the United National Charter, added the text.

The Cuban government also urges the international community to condemn the massacre and to request an immediate end for the attacks against the Palestinian civil population.

Cuba reiterates its unswerving solidarity and support for the heroic and long-suffering Palestinian people.